Running Back to Russia

Ok, so I’m not literally running to Russia. And I’m not returning until January anyway. 

But I am most certainly running! And when I think about it, I actually am running back to Russia, nonetheless figuratively.

Let me back up a bit so that I can start making some sense of this post 😉

For as far back as I can remember, I have always just known that I cannot run. There wasn’t even an inkling of a doubt in my mind – it was plain as the nose on my face that I simply cannot run, no way no how, nu-uh, not gonna do it. And it wasn’t because I didn’t want to, I just couldn’t run. It made my throat burn and left me breathless and coughing and I just did not like it at all. I wanted to like it, but at some point early on in my life, for some unknown, probably arbitrary reason, my mind declared running to be ‘just totally not my thing’, and out of my reach as something I am even capable of doing.

I believe the roots of my running complex, to give it a name, lies in my middle school days in California, where the horrible, awful gym class syllabus had as running a miserable mile once (or was it twice?) a week, an event that I remember dreading the entire day and passionately complaining about it at home. I have no idea why I got so worked up about it! Looking back, I don’t understand what I hated so much about running a measly mile, save for that it was no doubt difficult for me. That was before the days of my love story with ballet, and frankly before the days of even knowing what fitness, good health, and nutrition were. I was always athletic – I am told that from the very beginning I was always moving around and twirling and dancing and jumping and overall more comfortable being in a constant whirlwind of motion than sitting down and being calm. I see it in myself still now; in fact, it is partly due to this that I struggle to update my blog as often as I’d really like to – I have so much moving to do that the thought of sitting still for a good chunk of time to write, despite the great love of writing I have, makes me put it off in favor of something more active. I’m not complaining, though – we all know there is an increasingly critical problem of too little activity in the general population at the cost of our health. I know how difficult it is to force yourself into making something that does not come naturally into a habitual sort of thing. So, I am glad that at least I don’t have to worry about that 🙂

Speaking of my apparent tendency to be constantly in motion – and I’m going off on a short tangent here (as if I hadn’t already, right?) – I was amused just a short while ago by the discovery that my name, Noa, turns out to have a pretty fitting meaning for my personality. It means ‘motion’. Well, shucks 😀

/end tangent

Back to the topic of running. I just wasn’t meant to be a runner. It was something that was out of my reach because it was just too hard

Wait. Wait a minute. Too hard? 

Too hard?!


That’s a foreign concept for me, if there ever was one. I’ve never been one to turn down a challenge. I say that now, but apparently, as I’ve just realized, I had done it in the past! I believe that I never really realized that until now because I had decided I couldn’t run so early on – before I learned about the satisfaction of being dedicated to something and surpassing everybody’s expectations and your own in reaching ‘impossible’ heights and cherished goals – that it had become something I didn’t even think about anymore when it came to running. It was not up for argument, it was just ingrained in my view of myself that running is off-limits. 

And I had ways to justify it too. Subconsciously, if anything. After all, running is awful for ballerinas, isn’t it? Everybody knows that! Oh, the woes that await me as a dancer should I put that much strain on my knees and build the wrong muscles and, and, and…!

There is truth in that, of course, and as such I was more than happy to use that as justification for why i just cannot run. 

I am sure that by now you have gathered that something has changed and I am obviously now running. Nothing has changed, really, except for my mindset, which, to be fair, is actually probably the biggest/most significant type of change a person could go through. 

The bottom line is that I am out of shape. Coming home from Russia and taking over a month without much ballet (or anything at all, for that matter) in order to get better was obviously devastating for my movement-seeking self and, of course, for my ballet. I had gotten back up to reasonable shape as far as my ballet technique goes by the end of May (although still nowhere not quite at my best), and then the school year ended and I was confined to the limitations of summer break. While my technique had improved since coming back to classes after my rest, my physique itself is not how I like it to be, and I find myself back in the position of working toward a slimmer body and getting back to how I like to look! 

With both my aesthetic goals and my fitness and ballet related goals in mind, I went into summer break with a game plan in mind. Part of that game plan was to become a runner, to learn how to run. By the end of that summer, running would be part of my life, and seemingly from nowhere I was determined to make that happen! And I am happy to say that I seem to have made it happen, or am in the workings of it happening, anyway!

My teacher told me, some year ago, of a friend she had who was running a lot and lost a lot of weight. Before summer, she told me of another ballerina who was running 35 km a day while in the off season to stay in shape during her breaks. I think it was this, along with some other things and a general renewed sense of energy and motivation in me, that spurred me along to start running myself. And so, I did!

it’s been a month since I started running, give or take a week or so. I’ve lost track of it – because it just feels like something I’ve been doing all along, by now! It comes to me much more naturally than before, and I am stunned to say that I actually enjoy it. I shouldn’t be surprised, but considering my history with my lack of affinity toward the sport, I am. Well, that’s quite alright – one of my favorite feelings is the experience of being pleasantly surprised with myself for doing something I am proud to have done that maybe I didn’t realize I had it in me to do 😉

Almost two weeks ago I decided to run my first 5k with a good friend of mine. I had been training for a measly two weeks but was excited enough to take the plunge as I always tend to do, and it was so much fun! I’m not so concerned about time, not at all, actually. I just want to run! Maybe in the future that will be something I am driven to work on primarily. Not for now. Even without running on a competitive level, I am obviously tracking my times because…well…it’s just what you do! Anyway, we finished the 5k in just about 39 minutes, which I was happy about 🙂

Then a week and a half ago I found myself in a situation of being offered a number for the Peachtree Road Race, which is tomorrow! For those that don’t know (don’t worry, I didn’t know either until, er, a week and a half ago), the Peachtree is the biggest 10k in (I think?) the world, or maybe it’s just the US, with 60,000+ runners and many, many spectators, taking place on the 4th of July every year. I’ve heard it’s a really fun event! So many people register for a number, that they had to make the selection process a lottery-based one. Because of that, you are never guaranteed a spot just by registering. Knowing that, and playing a little bit of the devil’s advocate, I had absolutely zero hesitation upon saying, “YES, give me that number NOW!” And so, tomorrow morning I will rise at the crack of dawn (or possibly earlier), and head toward Atlanta to run the Peachtree! I happen to be in start wave F, which means I am ‘stuck’ with the faster runners, but I am so up for the challenge! My game plan? Playing tag! I think I’ll try to ‘tag’ onto someone and try to keep up with them. I am looking forward to it!

Oh yeah, one more update. I’ve settled on a major. I’m now officially a biology major, with a concentration in Physiology and Pre-Med! The dedication and ‘consumption’ mandated by ballet life, plus the rigors and equal lack of time for much else as a medical student?! What can I say, I’m one ambitious little lady. I can’t help it! I just cannot find it in me to ignore the few things I have a real passion for, and so I have succumbed to my eagerness and decided that I will take whatever difficulties arise in stride because, gosh darn it, if I want to be a ballerina AND study medicine, then I WILL!!

And I have to say, it’s refreshing and very satisfying to realize there is more to me than just ballet. I suspect I’ve known that all along, but it’s just clear as day to me now, and I couldn’t be happier about that! Ballerina. Doctor. Runner. Not yet, obviously, but on the path toward them all. And I have a feeling that in the future I will realize this is just the tip of the iceberg. That should be fun to see! 😀

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Back in the States but Looking Back at December in Perm

Hi from Atlanta! On Monday night, I landed back in Atlanta to much excitement, many hugs, and a lot of happiness. I traveled for nearly 30 hours altogether, which made for a tiring and long trip, but the anticipation of seeing my family made the trip pass by smoothly and kept me energized!

Last week I promised I would update you all on the happenings in Perm this past months – quite obviously I never got around to that! So, let’s see, where did I leave off last time…?

The first night of Hanukkah fell on December 7 (the first day of Hanukkah was December 8, but the Jewish calendar begins every holiday the evening before). Hanukkah is a very special holiday for me – I was born on the first candle, and so it’s always been my holiday! It was very strange to think about spending the holiday all alone and away from my family and friends, and lighting candles by myself every night. Luckily, I didn’t have to celebrate all by myself, at least not on the first – and, for me, most important – night! The city of Perm has it’s own branch of Chabad, which forms Perm’s Jewish community. My family and I got in touch with the rabbi and his family before my arrival in Perm, and I met them on Jewish New Years, a very short while after my arrival in Perm. They are such nice people, and very hospitable. I kept in touch with them and shortly before Hanukkah, they invited me to their house for the first night to light the candles. It was so much fun, and it really gave me a proper holiday like it should be every year! Not only that, but they also went above and beyond by making me a birthday cake. I went home that night feeling so fulfilled, and warm, and happy, and incredibly appreciative of them for helping me celebrate my favorite holiday quite thoroughly!

The week after, on December 14, the time for Historical Dance exam had already rolled around. For exams, the class and the teacher decides on an outfit together, we get measured and fitted for it, and then it is made for us according to our measurements and specifications.

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You probably know what I’m talking about if you’ve ever seen any of the exam videos from the Vaganova Academy, for example, on YouTube. This year, our class has a light pinkish-purplish leotard and skirt. For our Historical exam, we didn’t wear the matching skirt, as in Historical we wear our black character skirts. We will wear the skirts for out Classical exam in June. I took a picture of the leotard to show off 🙂 Oh, and the exam went really well! It was my first ever exam, and it was nice to have it in Historical rather than Classical as my first.

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During this time, decorations went up in the school, in the dorms, in the city – everywhere! And it was all so beautiful and festive.

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We [the foreign students] even made a poster to put up on the school walls. Line drew the snake – she’s got some mad skills! We wrote a holiday wish in each of our languages, with a little drawing of our country’s flag next to it.

Having finished our exams, and having reached our final weekend here with all of us together, a group of us decided to hit one of the favorite restaurants here, Tsuru, for some sushi. We had wanted to go there for a while, and we decided that since my birthday and the New Year was approaching, we should finally go and celebrate them both.

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It was nice to go out with the festive spirit – and with a lot less stress than we had been feeling in the weeks prior, seeing as exams were mostly finished and we were all ready to finish up for the holiday break. As an added bonus, the food was excellent! [One thing America should learn from Russia, and really every other country, is to serve smaller portion sizes at restaurants. That, and the metric system.]

Line found peanut butter [practically non-existent in Russia!] and a travel mug [which I had been looking for unsuccessfully] and gave them to me as my birthday present! This was the best present of the day and I am so happy I finally have a thermos to use! We really enjoyed the peanut butter =]

Line found peanut butter [practically non-existent in Russia!] and a travel mug [which I had been looking for unsuccessfully] and gave them to me as my birthday present! This was the best present of the day and I am so happy I finally have a thermos to use! We really enjoyed the peanut butter =]

Finally, on 20 December, my birthday was here! That was fun! I already posted about it being my first birthday away from home and how my parents made it as wonderful as always, but I never did post the pictures from the rest of the day. I got so many wonderful treats and gifts from my friends at school [and not all of them are pictured – by the end of the day, I was drowning in sweets!], and it was so much fun to have cake with everyone at the end of the day! See, the school bakes a cake for each student on their birthday.

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Some of the birthday gifts and treats I got from my friends at the academy!

Having cake in the evening

Having cake in the evening

The day was really great, full of chocolates and cake, as you can see, and I really enjoyed my birthday-away-from-home!

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On my last day before going back home for the break I was out doing some last-minute shopping and I decided to take some pictures for you guys of the theater and the surrounding park.

I’d like you all to know that I sacrificed all feeling my right hand for about five minutes after taking these pictures! I had to take off my glove and WOW it was COLD. I was “only” about -25 C, however; over the New Year, it will reach -37 C and maybe even less than -40 C! I, however, will be spending the first four days of the New Year in a warm Miami temperature as my family heads there for a family vacation! Until then, and after we get back from Miami, I will be spending my break in the still-cold-yet-much-more-bearable climate of Atlanta. I’m making the most of it, knowing that soon enough I will return to even colder weather than before I left in Perm when I go back for second semester mid-January!

Wishing you all a happy [and warm!] holiday season,

Until next time!

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Holiday Gift for Dancers

The day-to-day happenings of the last few weeks here in Perm have been interlaced with holiday preparations – everything from decorating our dorm rooms and the school itself, to putting suggestions for foods we want for a holiday meal during the last week of school in a box they put up, to buying gifts for friends and family.

Except, ok, I haven’t really gotten too far with that last one! Buying gifts is always such a complicated process for me! I want the gifts to be perfect, but this perfectionist tendency in me always leaves me closer to reaching the deadline without a present at all [due to not being able to choose] than having a 98% perfect present [as opposed to the 100% I strive for]. This has lead me to make several outings [in the bitter cold, I might add!] to look for gifts and coming back empty handed the majority of the time (luckily, I have at least made some progress, albeit very minimal). Factor in the fact that I spent almost all of this week locked up in Isolation after catching a virus that was going around, and the harsh reality sets in at once: I am way behind on my holiday shopping!

The thing is, I shouldn’t complain. At least I am buying presents for normal people. But what do people buy a dancer? That can be tricky. Gift cards are always good – I have received gift cards to dance stores before and those were always a treat! But what about a different type of gift card…?

Most [every?] serious dancer wants to attend a summer intensive in the summer, and the majority of the young ballet world is currently refining and narrowing down long lists of summer intensive auditions they will start attending next month. But there is something else all these students have in common: the awareness that they may not be able to attend a summer intensive at all, even if they did get in. 

This, my friends, is where this holiday gift idea comes into play! SIBA, the program I attended last summer and highly recommend, has come up with a wonderful idea for dancers and their relations alike. For the first time, people can buy gift cards to go toward the summer intensive program and gift them to dancers. If that isn’t a good idea, I don’t know what is! 

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So, dancers! Put this gift card on your holiday wishlist and you could find yourself ever so much closer to attending a summer program this year! I know I would certainly find great use of this – I am hoping to return to SIBA this year once again because I liked it so much last year! What with still being involved in the search for funding my year-round education here in Perm, a summer program is going to be tough to afford, if at all affordable (flights are a biggie!) I am well aware that my concerns are similar or the same to those held by other dancers, so I figured that if I thought this was a good solution for me, that it might be a good solution for you, as well!

If you’re looking to buy a present for a dancer, take note

Happy holidays everyone 🙂

Time Has Found Me

I was going to start this over-due update by saying that I’ve finally managed to find a large enough chunk of time in which to sit comfortably, bottomless cups of black coffee by my side, and take as long as I wish to write and blog and enjoy myself thoroughly while doing it. I was going to start this post with it, and then I realized I didn’t actually find time…it feels more like time found me!

Ok, maybe that makes less sense written down than it did in my head, but allow me to explain myself:

Half of the school is sick. Ok, not quite so many people as to make up half of the school, but a lot of people have come down with a cold/flu. Isolation? It’s full to the brim. Of us foreign students, several people are tending to a mild case of the sniffles. And two of us – me included – are in isolation. I tried to avoid the nurses the last few days, because I was doing everything in my power to continue going to classes. My philosophy? If I’m not dying, I’m going to class. And honestly, if i were dying, I might want to spend my last days dancing, too. Haha!

My plan worked, but not for long; by yesterday afternoon I was in isolation after E.L. sent me there from class. Luckily, since the isolator is so full, Sara and I were allowed to stay in our rooms on our floor of the dormitories, which is so much more comfortable – and less boring! – than having to stay in the isolator itself. I still hate isolation, though! It means that we can’t leave the dorm building, not even to go to the school for out meals. Instead, they bring our food to the isolator [there is a small dining room there], and we eat there.

Anyone that knows me will know that I’m not fond of sitting around all day doing nothing. Or even if I am doing something productive, or something necessary like homework – I just don’t like sitting around. It makes me feel lazy. I like moving. Not being able to leave the building makes for very few opportunities for movement; unless you count going up and down the stairs when they call for me from the infirmary, the extent to which I can expect to get any exercise is the movement of my fingers on the keyboard as I type!

But, I digress. Not having a choice in the matter has at least given me a wonderful opportunity to catch up with blogging. And honestly, I am glad for that! Since it’s not my choice to sit around all day, I cannot possibly feel guilty for being lazy….right? Right?!

I plan on at least being productive today. Here I am writing my blog, and soon I will post more pictures and updates about what has been going on here lately. I also plan on crossing something else off my to-do list that has been lingering there for weeks – making holiday/New Years cards for my friends here!! There are only about two more weeks until we go home for break and some of my friends are leaving even earlier than me, so I really want to spend some time to make really nice cards for everyone.

Plus, I have to plan gifts. And I have to plan my birthday. It’s tradition here to give others something when it’s your birthday. For my birthday, I plan on making a cake or a treat to share with my friends in the dorm (the foreign students). Then, a group of friends and I (which includes also not-foreign students) are planning on having a little get-together, and i will have to make/bring something yummy for that, too. And finally, there is my class. It’s common to give everyone a big bar of chocolate. I might do that – or, if I haven’t tired of making something myself, I might try my hand at making yet another goodie to share with my class. I will mention that we have no kitchen – but we do have a microwave, an immersion blender, and a rice cooker. This makes for some sparks of creativity and it’s actually quite fun to discover just how much you can make without a kitchen! Case in point: I made everyone truffles last weekend. Yeah, I know. I rock. But anyway…my birthday is on the 20th, which is two weeks from today! So I’ve got to get planning and making and doing!

I’m off to go work on some updates for you all…they’ll be up today, that’s for sure!

Winter is Coming. No, Wait – Winter has Come!

The snow began a few weeks ago, although I’m quite surprised at how little snow there is on the ground. I probably shouldn’t be too ‘worried’, though, as the weather forecast has us preparing to expect temperatures  of “feels like” … Continue reading

How to Feel Good, Be Happy, and Succeed

Today I’ve woken up refreshed and ready to go back to class tomorrow morning to finish off the week with a bang and lead into a start of a great new week tomorrow and all the weeks thereafter!

Without going into much detail, I’ve been having quite a rough week – of course, I had prepared myself ahead of time before I came here that there would be days where I might feel doubtful of myself, even hateful toward myself, or something so crazy as wanting to give up for a fleeting moment, or longer. Still, while knowing to expect it made it less of a shock for me when I experienced my first real wave of anxiety yesterday, it didn’t make it any less uncomfortable, scary, or any easier to get rid of! At the time I felt like my world might crumble and I just didn’t know what to do.

Now? I’m totally better! Exhaustion built up over the physical stress I was already in (lots of new movements, many very sore muscles, and even something so seemingly trivial as switching the hours I am used to dancing from evening time to morning/day time!) and it all got to me yesterday, but I finally was able to get some rest yesterday and today and I feel 100% better. I have none of the doubt I had a mere 24-hours ago and I have all of the determination, will, and desire to keep going that had originally got me to this school in the first place! I can say with confidence and ease that, Yes! I want to be a ballerina!

I was thinking of something, though, and I wanted to ask my followers for some help. I realized that even though I feel really good now, I need to remember that I will have bad days again. That’s just part of life – especially this kind of life. And I think I realize now that instead of getting more stressed out by trying to fix it and get mad at myself for “allowing” myself to have bad days, I need to just let them pass and do what I can to feel as good as I can possibly feel!

I’m making a list of feel-good ‘things’ that I can do, sort of like a plan to make it easier to do what makes me feel good. Getting enough good-quality sleep is at the top of my list, although I’m still trying to figure out ways to make that happen! Having good music to listen to is also something I realized is really uplifting and important to me. Happy stuff, to pump me up and get myself excited! Going out for a walk, as well as working out – this gives me at least 30 min of uninterrupted ”me-time” to think about anything and everything that may be on my mind (and my guess is that this will probably make it easier to fall asleep, too!) 

So I thought it would be a brilliant idea to turn to all of you guys for suggestions!

What does your feel-good list consist of?
Do you have any tips for keeping up your spirits when things become overwhelming, as they occasionally do?
What’s your favorite way to relieve stress?
What your favorite way to prevent stress?
What is your feel-good playlist?
Tips for better sleep?

I really want to hear everyone’s replies, but I want to be able to get advice from a wide range of people – the more ideas, the better, in my book! So rather than have people reply to this post, I will be creating a follow-up post which will be a re-blog type of post. The more it is re-blogged, the more ideas we will all have, and the happier we will be =D 

If you do not have a Tumblr account but still would like to contribute, please do so! Just leave a reply here, or use my Ask box. 

P.S. If someone wants to create a feel-good playlist for me or a CD and send it in the mail, I would totally not object ^_^ Am I being too obvious here? Haha! 

“On my way home from ballet…”

You know you’re becoming well-adjusted to your new life when you say that kind of thing to your mom on the phone! When you start referring to the dorms as “home”, it really starts to feel that way, and even though nothing will ever compare to the home with a family to go along with it, who’s to say a person can’t have more than one true home? I’ve started to feel that I’m becoming more comfortable with life as it is here, with the flow of my schedule, with the surrounding area, with the people I’m living with – and it’s really great! it’s starting to feel like normal life and I couldn’t be more happy about that 🙂

After the exams last Friday, classes reverted back to being more like what I had expected them to be. I mean, up until the exam, we were working on actually setting a class to perform for the exam, and it took me a while to realize that, during which I was wondering why the classes seemed somewhat strange! It made sense once I realized we were doing an exam, though. 

Class is so much nicer now, though, now that it’s flowing like an actual class! My teacher has been giving me more and more personal corrections, and each and every time this happens it makes me feel like I’ve made one more little step forward on the ladder to success: I’m not kidding when I say that I get so excited every time that I want to jump up in the air and give a “whoop-whoop!” I regret to inform you all that I do not, in fact, do this during class, as I have a sneaking suspicion it might get me thrown out of the school. But that’s ok, I can do it on here! “Whoop-whoop!”

Getting more personal attention has been exactly the motivator I needed to reassure me that I do belong here and that I can go very far during my studies here. I’ve gotten such a burst of confidence in the last week – and don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I was lacking confidence – but I just feel like it’s even more justified now, and I really like that. 

I even stood on the middle barre all this week! I don’t want to get overly excited about it because my spot can change at any minute if Lydia Grigorevna decides I’m not worthy enough of the honor to take up a coveted middle barre spot…but I can’t help but be happy about it! Just the fact that I took a chance and stood on the middle barre, and she didn’t move me back or yell at me – well, I think I deserve to celebrate that as more progress. 

The girls in my class…well, maybe I need to give it more time. It’s understandable that they we wouldn’t click together as the best of friends immediately. What with the language barrier, it’s really not a simple task to communicate. I know Russian quite well already, but somehow when they start talking I find it really difficult to keep up and answer like I know to answer! Still, I wish they were a little more friendly and helpful rather than as distant and cold as they are. Ok, that made it sound so much worse than it is – they are nice sometimes! I noticed that when it’s just me and one of the Russian girls, they act completely sweet and they answer my questions and are genuinely kind to me. It’s when they are together as a class that it feels like they would rather talk about me instead of with me and don’t make an effort to get to know me. This little thing I noticed makes me sure that it’s just ‘fear’ they have of one another, and not really of me. Soon enough my Russian will improve and they will be able to actually talk with me and find out that I’m not so scary after all!! Hahaha!

Meanwhile, though, I’ve really gotten to be friends with the rest of the international boarders – and that’s really important as well! It’s a lot of fun to be with them all and they are all so friendly and helpful!

Really, though, I’ve been trying hard not to let any of whatever goes on with the other girls influence how my classes go. And, honestly, I hardly think about it once I’m in class; of course there are occasions here and there, but overall I’m focused on class. I’m here to become a ballerina, first and foremost, and I have no plans to derail from my mission of making the most of this experience, perfecting my dancing, and showing them what I’m made of!

So, I have been working really hard in classes, trying to make progress each and every time the opportunity presents itself; funnily enough, I realized that if you look hard enough, opportunity for progress presents itself quite frequently; it’s only left up to me to grasp that moment and take that chance, whatever it may be, and give it my absolute fullest and best in order to make that step forward and be a little closer (or a lot closer) to the ultimate goal. 

I was hoping that by now I would have found an ideal way for this post to seamlessly flow into a description of what my classes are actually like and how they compare to what I’m used to, but I just can’t seem to do that today! It’s Sunday, it’s my day off, give me a break! So, I’ll just go into it like this 😉

Classes here are pretty close to what I’m used to. That’s not surprising since I’ve always been taught according to the Vaganova syllabus by my teacher at home. There are still slight differences, of course, as you would expect when going from teacher to teacher and school to school and, most certainly, country to country! We start every class – not just Classical, classes like gymnastics, too – with Поклон [said as “paklon”], which is the bow, reverence, curtsy, whatever you are accustomed to referring to it as. It’s slightly different for Classical (where it is a simple curtsy to both sides) than it is for Historical (where it is slightly more involved, with an added temps lie and whatnot) and Character (where there is an emphasis on a flourish of the arms in addition to the added steps in between) – but always, this is how class begins, and how it ends, as well. Note: aside from the Поклон we do at the beginning and end of every class, we are also expected to curtsy to both sides whenever out teacher or the pianist walks in, or some other person of importance enters the room.

One of the other differences is that my teacher here likes to repeat combinations a couple times. I haven’t yet picked up on how often we actually do that, but I think it’s about every other day; meaning, she’ll show us the combinations on Monday, and we repeat the class on Tuesday, maybe slightly more complicated, but on Wednesday she might show us different combinations. But honestly, I might be totally off on this – I haven’t been here long enough to learn any definite pattern! 

We are assigned spots at the barre and in center, which we kind of did at home but not quite to the same degree. 

What else? Well, I’m used to getting more hands-on corrections at home, which is funny because you would think it would be the opposite; I’m not sure if it’s just Lydia Grigorevna’s style to yell corrections more often than actually place your body in certain positions, but I’m pretty sure it’s just that she hasn’t done so to me personally yet because I’m still new. I say that because she most certainly has been quite hands-on and physical with the other girls, varying in intensity from placing a girls foot in the correct position so that she feels how it should be done, to slapping an arm into place, to pushing a girl to the side of the room so hard she almost fell over! It might sound strange for me to say this, but I can’t wait until I start getting the same level of corrections. 

On one hand, classes here are slower, in that we really repeat a movement or a combination over and over until it’s perfect before moving on to something more challenging; this is a pretty big characteristic of the Russian school, which is afforded by the setup of 8 years of strict, calculated training and a syllabus to go along with it. On the other hand, we’re doing movements that I’ve never done before!

One of the more difficult things for me is wearing de-shanked pointe shoes in class instead of flat shoes. It’s not the whole school that does this, most of the girls wear normal slippers. But Lydia Grigorevna wants us in soft pointe shoes – she made that very clear to me on my first day here when I wore my usual ballet slippers! And I just find it harder to work my feet in them, but especially difficult is adagio in center where the different shape of the shoe, compared to flats, make balancing on flat or demi-pointe a completely different experience, one that increases the difficulty of the exercise tenfold! 

I think those are the main differences…at least, it’s what I can come up with to describe to you all at the moment! If there are any questions you’d like answered in more specifics, please don’t hesitate to ask. I’m glad to tell everyone about what it’s like here, I just need to know what people want to hear 🙂

Well – I need to go now! Today is Sunday, which is my one day off every week and believe me when I say I cherish it and try to make the most of it because I find it much more difficult to have only one day off instead of two. Later today Daria is taking us to do a photoshoot around Perm, on the theme of “Perm Through the Eyes of a Foreigner”, so that should be really fun! 

I hope the rest of you have a nice weekend, too! 

^By the way, you know how ballet is so ingrained in the Russian culture, right? Walk into the local supermarket and you’re sure to find at least one type of chocolate with some ballet theme to it! I wanted to buy this just for the box, but I don’t trust myself with all that chocolate. So I took a picture, instead! Enjoy 😀